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What is the job you love?

I am a specialist audiologist and Clinical Leader.  Audiologists provide hearing services such as hearing tests, hearing aids and cochlear implants as well rehabilitation and information.   I started as a general audiologist seeing all types of clients and then moved on to specialise in Paediatrics (children).  I love working with the kids and their parents.  A few years ago I applied for a position as Clinical Leader. This means that I now assist other audiologists, run training for them, and monitor the quality of our services.   I also get to deal with early intervention agencies, cochlear implant clinics, itinerant support teachers, and other organisations to teach them more about what we do and work with them to improve our services.   Rather than being based at one hearing centre I now spend a bit of time travelling around our region and dealing with lots and lots of people!

How did you get into this line of work?

I visited Audiologists all my life as I have a severe hearing loss and have worn hearing aids since I was 20 months old.  I originally thought it was a very boring job when watching my Audiologist test me and fit my hearing aids! But after finishing my Arts degree majoring in Psychology at Uni I wasn’t sure what to do next. I didn’t want to go on to do two more years of study in Psychology but I wanted to do something related to this where I could work with people and perhaps use some of my own experiences to help others. My best friend suggested that I do Audiology.  She had thought about it for me and encouraged me to look it up in the University’s course guide.  It looked like it had interesting subjects and at that time it was a one year postgraduate course.  I thought “it doesn’t hurt to try it for a year!” I entered the course and within several months I loved it and knew that it was what I wanted to do.

What is the best part about your job?

I love talking to people about their lives and working out how to help them. I also really enjoy the mix between the emotional/counselling side of the job and the scientific and technical side. 

What are some of the challenges of your job?

It is always a challenge meeting a family for the first time when they have just found out that their child has a hearing loss or is deaf.  It’s an unexpected and difficult road at first for a lot of families but I find it inspiring to see the kids as they grow up and achieve amazing things. It’s also a challenge having to run training and talk to so many people on a daily basis. I am lucky that I cope quite well on the phone and enjoy talking lots! However, it does get very tiring having to concentrate to make sure I don’t miss anything.  I’ve come up with different tactics over the years. For example if I am running a “brainstorming” session in training and it’s hard to hear everyone shouting out suggestions, I get someone to get up and write all the comments on the white board. I also use email a lot, especially with people I have trouble hearing on the phone.  I also have to try and look after myself so that I don’t get too run down from concentrating a lot. 

What advice would you give a deaf or hard of hearing person who is looking for a career like yours?

First of all look after yourself by making sure you have a good support network, both at home and at work. See if you can establish a good “mentoring” relationship with one or two people at work that you can talk to about work  and support issues.  Talk to your family or your friends lots, they will be the ones who cheer you on and tell you you’re all right.  Secondly, don’t let other people limit you.  I had a lecturer tell me, “If you aren’t capable of taking notes you shouldn’t be at university” when I asked for written notes. As a new audiologist I was told that perhaps I shouldn’t specialise in working with children as parents wouldn’t like dealing with a hearing impaired audiologist.  At first this really upset me and nearly made me give up on my dream.  I know now that this was wrong and while I was discouraged for a while, my stubbornness and determination to prove I could do it soon kicked in! When people say negative things or show negative attitudes remember that there is a lot of misunderstanding out there about what hearing impaired/deaf people are capable of.  Turn it into a positive and be determined to prove them wrong and do what you want to do!

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